You may have been considering divorce for a while now, but actually approaching your spouse about the issue can seem overwhelming — and a little scary. Most people don’t cope well with major changes and disappointments in their lives, and there’s no guarantee that your spouse will be receptive (or even aware that there’s a real problem in your marriage).
Here are the steps you can take to ease the process:
- Be sure this is what you want. If you haven’t already seen a therapist, consider doing so before you take the next step.
- Plan what you intend to say. It’s not over-the-top to write out your thoughts. Doing so can help you clarify your feelings and decide what you should and shouldn’t say in this early conversation.
- Start by addressing your mutual dissatisfaction with your relationship. The odds are very high that your spouse isn’t totally happy, either. You need to frame divorce as a healthy alternative to staying in a destructive and unpleasant relationship.
- Be very clear about your intentions. If you’re still willing to work things out, you shouldn’t be having the “divorce talk” yet, so don’t give into your spouse’s entreaties to try couple’s counseling or other rescue methods.
- Don’t try to work out all the details. It’s okay to offer your spouse some reassurances that you’ll willing to work toward a fair and peaceful split, but don’t commit to any particular vision of how that will work just yet. You both need time to get your bearings.
- Stay calm (even if your spouse does not). If your spouse starts to get angry, verbally abusive or overwrought, suggest that it’s time to take a break and retreat. You can resume the discussion when they’ve calmed down.
If you and your spouse can’t find happiness together, seeking a divorce frees you both to try to find happiness apart.